An ode to movie soundtracks

I always feel like soundtracks are usually the underdogs of recent movies. We’re all so blown away by the visuals of the film — which no doubt are awesome, all thanks to the fantastic technological advances the film industry has been making — but recent soundtracks have been upping the game. Be it ‘Social Network’ (gritty but so listenable), ‘The Theory of Everything’ (for overwhelming days), ‘Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ (for days when you need to get shit done), ‘Swiss Army Man’ (when you want to make boring work sound fun), or ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ (the soundtrack and the score — for nearly EVERYTHING). Special mention to the original score to this little known indie film, ‘Nobody Walks’ by Fall On Your Sword — what a thoroughly listenable soundtrack from start to finish even if you may not have seen the movie.

I’m someone who’s always on the lookout for a wholesome soundtrack as non-intrusive work music — I read and edit books for a living, I cannot get too involved in the music because then I won’t be able to focus on the words on my screen anymore. My recent find has been, not surprisingly, the gloriously beautiful soundtrack of ‘La La Land’. Unlike other soundtracks that I sample and categorize depending on what I’m currently working on — for instance, something simple for complex stuff that needs hands on editing or something more powerful to keep me awake through boring manuscripts — the ‘La La Land’ soundtrack seems to have some magical properties wherein I am involved in the music but it’s not a hindrance to the work I’m doing. It’s like the music is in me, under my skin, imploring me to focus on what’s at hand, instead of the other way around. And that is something that hasn’t happened in a long time, probably ever.

It’s been 5 days of listening to the ‘La La Land’ soundtrack and the more I listen to it, the more I love it, the more I’m trying not to twirl and glide on the way to my desk from the coffee machine.

I can’t get over how unbelievably positive the music is. You can’t help but smile — even when the marginally melancholy tracks are playing. It’s the right amount of relatable but larger-than-life and this is exactly what most recent soundtracks (and possibly movies as well) have been missing — keeping things upbeat and motivating you to go further, go bigger.

Complaining about the world and all is fine but sometimes we all just need that dash of positivity and I think that’s exactly what ‘La La Land’ achieved. The uninhibited display of love for conventional cinema combined with flawless and beautiful performances brings it all together in a brilliant little package of perfection.

Needless to say, I loved the movie when I first saw it but I did not expect it to keep affecting me as powerfully, days after having first seen it. I pretty much relive the movie — and exactly how I felt during those sequences — no matter how many times I hit the repeat button. What’s actually surprised me is how some of the tracks that hadn’t quite affected me musically — namely, ‘Another Day of Sun’, ‘Someone in the Crowd’, and ‘Start a Fire’ — have grown on me exponentially, without affecting the appeal of the other songs. So I’m basically stuck with listening to the whole thing all day, every day (not that I’m complaining).

A movie really gets it right when the whole package leaps off the screen, into your consciousness. You’re so involved in everything that you have no time to notice the individual elements. But I do have a special place in my heart for soundtracks — good soundtracks. Because I can’t keep watching the movie again and again but I definitely can relive a movie (or create my own in my mind, depending on my mood).